UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO BUSINESS SCHOOL STUDENT OSAMA B. SERVES THE PEOPLE
When many of us were 22, we were more concerned about what was happening on Saturday night than managing a business. But Osama B. is no ordinary 22-year-old. He’s a full-time business student who has been wheeling and dealing for years.
“I used to do a lot of Ubering [around Toronto],” he recalls. “But being a full-time student, I really needed to prioritize my studies and Uber was taking a lot of time.” So he googled around and found Turo, which had just launched in Canada a couple months prior. Serendipity? You bet. “I watched a couple YouTube videos on Turo and got familiar with the concept. If I could share my car when I’m not using it, I could focus on other things,” he notes.
And so he listed his Hyundai Elantra to see what it was like, and his car was an instant hit. “I got a lot of requests, and soon it was booked almost every day of the month,” he remembers. Still needing a car for himself occasionally, he started thinking about buying another car. What car might he buy? His dream car, because why not?
“Since 2013, I’ve dreamed of owning a Porsche Cayman,” he says. With the instant success of his Elantra on Turo, he figured maybe, just maybe, he could “afford a C$70,000 car, drive it, and love it, all while operating on a student budget. My friends thought I was crazy.” Crazy? So crazy it just might work.
Dream car realized
And so he went all in and bought his Porsche Cayman — and has loved every second of it. “The Porsche has done an amazingly good job of being rented out,” despite being priced a little higher than his Elantra’s price point. “Lots of enthusiasts rent it,” he notices, “and the best part is getting it back after a couple days and being able to drive it again — that’s one of the ‘spices’ of Turo”.
“It’s just such a beautiful car,” he swoons. “The handling and the sounds of engine roaring behind the seat is a crazy feeling.” And his Turo income “pays for the all the associated expenses,” he says. To all his naysayers — who’s laughing now? He’s even added four more cars — a BMW 3 Series, a Mercedes Benz GLA-Class, a Mini Cooper, and a Porsche Cayenne — for a total of six cars in his micro-fleet. He’s even planning on adding a couple more cars to his roster — including a BMW i8 — before the summer high season hits. Not too shabby for nine months in business.
Share & share alike
As a business student, Osama has long been intrigued by the sharing economy. “I’m very convinced of the concept,” he says. “Business people are more open to investing capital into something where they don’t know where it’s going,” and the sharing economy is benefitting from a lot of mainstream attention in recent years.
But in addition to sharing assets, Osama is big on sharing insights. “I meet at the Starbucks near my house at least twice a week with people who reach out with questions about Turo, and how I’ve succeeded.” A proactive ambassador for Turo hosts in Toronto, Osama admits that “I’m a Turo advocate and always have been. I believe there is enough for all of us on the platform, that we should compete on personalized services to our guests not just prices, and that Turo’s success is part of our own individual story.” More recently, Osama has been supporting budding entrepreneurs in beginning their hosting journeys through a series of workshops.
Power tips from a power host
So what are his pro pointers? “You don’t need to compete on price, you can compete on service. Go the extra mile, get good reviews. Drive your guest to the subway. Add an unanticipated value. I find that a lot of my Turo guests come back because of customer service,” not necessarily on price, he advises. He talks business with business-minded guests, he suggests restaurants and activities around town to out-of-towners, he tailors the rental to his guests’ schedules — and these nuances have been key to his tremendous success on the Turo platform in less than a year.
Osama is a shining example of the Turo marketplace at its best — he’s cultivating a strong, trusting, and collaborative community, he’s offsetting the costs of car ownership, and he’s drumming up some good income while he’s still in school. All of this, and he gets to drive his dream car — at the tender age of 22. When I was 22, I was shopping for a $600 1995 Dodge Caravan to drive cross country and then I chickened out; I couldn’t handle the commitment. I think we all wish we were as poised, proactive, and productive as Osama.
Give Osama a shout next time you’re tooting around Toronto. He’ll hook you up with the perfect car for your next adventure and provide the type of customer service that fuels the “all Canadians are so nice” stereotype.